public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:51 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:28 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 119
Location: So. California
WOW. Thank you, John Rockwell. A real read.
But ofcourse, the rib continues to follow us Californians (all fruits and nuts)
And Los Angeles is football.

I am relieved that Rockwell addressed many of the issues that I had with Segal's article.

Since there were so many agreeing with his five points on another chat site, I was beginning to think I was just one of those California nuts 8)

Is further discussion warranted? There are certainly issues within the ballet that need significant questioning. There is talent and there is amazing work being done. But it is scattered and intermittent. And I agree with Rockwell. Perhaps the less-than-stellar touring that major companies bring to L.A. have been sub-par. It also seems difficult to secure the moneys for dance in Southern California. San Francisco is far beyond us in its committment to dance as art.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:09 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
Great Thread!!! :twisted:

First of all I have to state, I love Ballet!!! no matter what anyone says, I think I have probably watched full length Swan Lake and Giselle atleast 250 times and am ready to watch another 250 to say nothing of other works. However, there is always room for criticism, hate is a strong word but I certainly feel very strongly about current issues that plague the industry or detract from the general public's interest in the art form.

Here are my 5:

1- I HATE the fact that most audiences will burst into applause when a ballet dancer does like 3 pirouettes on stage or holds a balance en pointe way longer than it needs :roll: . For me, this interrupts my train of thought while watching a performance and dumbs down the performance experience to that of a common circus. Everytime I experience this I wonder to myself, when is the juggling monkey coming on stage :D ?

2- I HATE the fact that most artistic directors are more concerned with how their dancers look in class rather than the artistic development of the organization. Most current AD's need to stop worrying about how many tendus their dancers do in class and more about the artistic direction of their companies with regard to development of new choreographic works, public perception, and staging of performances. Dancers love to take class, if they didn't then they wouldn't be professional dancers. If you want to be an instructor then be an instructor, if you want to be an artistic director then be an artistic director. In the last 18 years of my career I can count on one hand how many directors can handle both.

3- I HATE the fact that it is so expensive to attend a performance of a ballet company. I have no problem with paying money to attend a show but when a ticket exceeds 20 dollars per person I just can't validate spending that amount of money to see a performance. Many argue that this is how the companies raise money for their yearly operating budgets and by paying higher ticket prices you are supporting the company. My answer to that is, "then why the hell are they a non-profit organization"??? This is a very serious fundamental flaw in the structure of the modern day ballet company in the United States and one that I never see addressed in the media. If your organizational structure is set up so that your operating budget comes from tax deductible charitable donations then you should not be concerned with high ticket prices. The fact that MOST modern day ballet companies are largely dependant on selling out a high percentage of their performances at elevated ticket prices to supplement shortfalls or gaps in their operating budgets means one of two things if not both; 1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past, 2- Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization.

4- I HATE the fact that just about every single ballet company out there has Carmina Burana or Dracula in their repertoire!!! Enough already!!! STOP choreographing these titles!!! It is NOT original, and will not distinguish your organization. By having everyone choreograph a version of these titles all it does is stagnate artistic growth. Actually, if you look at these two titles it sums up one of the largest problems facing modern day ballet companies, "no new concepts".

5- I HATE the fact that ballerinas are so damned skinny!!! Enough already, EAT FOOD! Rice Cakes are not food! They are basically packing peanuts shaped into a circle :D A diet consisting of a bottle of evian, bagel, cottage cheese, and fruit is not what makes up a healthy daily recommended diet. A full figured woman is a beautiful thing (or atleast to me), we need more REAL bodies on the stage.

OK, there you have my 5. Any others out there?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:43 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3373
Location: Canada
Quote:
3- I HATE the fact that it is so expensive to attend a performance of a ballet company. I have no problem with paying money to attend a show but when a ticket exceeds 20 dollars per person I just can't validate spending that amount of money to see a performance. Many argue that this is how the companies raise money for their yearly operating budgets and by paying higher ticket prices you are supporting the company. My answer to that is, "then why the hell are they a non-profit organization"??? This is a very serious fundamental flaw in the structure of the modern day ballet company in the United States and one that I never see addressed in the media. If your organizational structure is set up so that your operating budget comes from tax deductible charitable donations then you should not be concerned with high ticket prices. The fact that MOST modern day ballet companies are largely dependant on selling out a high percentage of their performances at elevated ticket prices to supplement shortfalls or gaps in their operating budgets means one of two things if not both; 1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past, 2- Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization.



How, then do propose that ballet companies survive? Irregardless of the ticket price, the money comes out of your pocket somehow - donations, tickets or taxes.... and if tickets are cheaper, then it's gotta come from the other two. In the US it's donations, and in Europe, it tends to be taxes. Our tickets tend to be cheaper with good concessions, but you'd probably freak out at our tax rate.

I guess the companies could charge $10 for all tickets, but then they'd have to pay the musicians and the dancers and the stagehands and the choreographers and the costumer designers peanuts. or cut out health insurance or pensions. And that would never work, so there wouldn't be any ballet to see.

The idea of non-profit is not that the company doesn't make individual profits from things like tickets or programs etc., it's that the company/business does not earn with the intention of doing anything more than covering its costs. And there just aren't enough donors to do that without charging a certain amount for tickets. It would far worse if companies lost their 501(c)3 status because donations would almost certainly plummet without the tax deductions. Rich people donate so they can lower their taxes - and we gain from that.

It's not that I don't think some tickets are over-priced, but it seems hypocritical to complain about companies trying to cover costs, while at the same time bemoaning that companies are supporting choreographic talent etc. The fact of the matter is that if you don't cover costs you go the way of Ohio Ballet or Ballet Internationale or Dance Theatre of Harlem. That is kaput.

BTW, I think artistic directors are right to be concerned about dancers in classes, though my experience is that ADs tend to pretty hands off. They may teach some classes, but most classes are taught by a variety of company and guest teachers. Because, how dancers look in class reflects how they will look on stage. And no matter what else an AD does, if the dancers aren't in shape and have a company ethos, the company won't look good.

Besides, the fact of the matter is that (with some exceptions) dancers in company are being paid. It's a job. So, whether you like it or not, the boss gets to decide how things work (within legal and contractual boundaries). That's real life. I've had bosses I've hated, but if you want the paycheck, you gotta knuckle down and do the work.



But, I agree. NO MORE CARMINA BURANAs!!!! I was horrified to see that Houston Ballet is resurrecting Stanton Welch's "Carmina Burana". It was interesting to see at ABT, but I thought it was a colossal waste of time, money and resources for an overblown production that could only be performed in limited locations and performances because of the sets and the need for a full choir. Houston Ballet could do so much better.

Kate


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:53 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Quote:
but then they'd have to pay the musicians and the dancers and the stagehands and the choreographers and the costumer designers peanuts.


...Which would bring those people down to the pay level already occupied by lighting designers.

Actually, I wish they would pay me peanuts; that way I'd at least have something to eat.

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:17 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
ksneds wrote:
How, then do propose that ballet companies survive? Irregardless of the ticket price, the money comes out of your pocket somehow - donations, tickets or taxes.... and if tickets are cheaper, then it's gotta come from the other two. In the US it's donations, and in Europe, it tends to be taxes. Our tickets tend to be cheaper with good concessions, but you'd probably freak out at our tax rate.


Ballet companies CAN in fact survive on the contributed amount of tax deductable donations that they receive from baord members, trustees, public organizations, and ordinay citzens who gladly open their pocketbooks to support an arts organization. The fundamental flaw that i am making reference to in my original post is that of elevated ticket prices supplimenting shortfalls in a yearly operating budget. I posted that one of two things if not both is relevant in proping up a budget through elevated ticket prices, which are; 1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past, 2- Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization. Lets take the 2nd point first, "Irresponsible management and structuring of a non-profit organization". Say for instance "XYZ" ballet company receives annual pledges of roughly 2 million dollars through tax deductable donations one year. Then, the next year the next year the same organization only receives pledges of 1.5 million. It would be common sense for most people who are operating a responsibly managed company to scale down operations to be able to stay within this 1.5 million dollar budget. By doing this, the organization will be able to stay within budget, however, there will have to be budget cutbacks. Nobody likes cutbacks but sometimes that is the way of the world like it or not. Most companies will try to raise that shortfall of operating capital by counting on season subsciptions or single ticket sales which puts a large dependancy on the "profit" of the organization's productions. A non-profit organization should be able to produce and exist without any dependancy on a "profit" factor. The managing of a non-profit performing arts organization relying heavily on that of public ticket sales to prop up an organization's budget can have dire consequences if the prespected goals of those ticket sales fall short. All this brings me back to the point of irresponsible structuring and management of a non-profit organization. Let's say that you are a philanthropist and give 200,000 a year to "XYZ" ballet company to help them operate. Then later that year you get called into an emergency board of trustees session for "XYZ" ballet company where they state that they have a cash-flow problem and can't make payroll or fund one of the future productions because ticket sales fell short or a certain production didn't bring in the expected amount of audience that was anticipated. Without more donations the company is faced with a growing defecit or even closure. This is the scenario that plays itself out time after time after time in modern day ballet companies. Why??? The ever growing reliance on revenue generated by ticket sales to suppliment operating costs. This scenario has another consequence that I have not touched base on, board member and or funder retention. As more and more modern day ballet companies are mismanaged in this fashion the more and more people and organizations who DO make charitable donations stop donating. There is only a finite amount of times you can go to a contributor and say you need more money before they say, "well you can't seem to handle the money I gave you" and they stop pouring money down what they see as a bottomless hole. Once that trend begins and funders/trustee members start declining it only increases the amount of reliance on ticket sales and the profitable success of productions which goes against the fundamental principals of a non-profit organization. When modern day ballet companies operate in this manner, and to date many of them do, it brings me to my first point of "1- The concept of "non-profit" is a thing of the past".
What ever happened to operating within your constrained budget?

Quote:
I guess the companies could charge $10 for all tickets, but then they'd have to pay the musicians and the dancers and the stagehands and the choreographers and the costumer designers peanuts.

Ummmm, I hate to break this to you but they already do :wink: . Seriously though, if you were to be able to charge only 10.00 per ticket you would probably be able to attract a larger audience which in turn increases the general public's awareness of your organization as well as the art form which would in turn widen the prospects of future fund raising and support.

Quote:
or cut out health insurance or pensions. And that would never work, so there wouldn't be any ballet to see.

What Health Insurance? What pension? Here in the USA I would estimate that about 10% of existing ballet companies have these type of benefit programs. The vast majority of existing ballet companies do not provide these types of benefits so cutting them is not even something that would play into the scenario.

Quote:
It would far worse if companies lost their 501(c)3 status because donations would almost certainly plummet without the tax deductions. Rich people donate so they can lower their taxes - and we gain from that.

We are at a point in history in the USA where 503 ballet companies are drying up faster than ever before. The time to convert to a new way of financially funding and operating a ballet company is now.

Quote:
The fact of the matter is that if you don't cover costs you go the way of Ohio Ballet or Ballet Internationale or Dance Theatre of Harlem. That is kaput.

Ohhhhhh how wrong you are. I have intimate knowledge of these three organizations you just mentioned and what led to their demises. I assure you that in each of these scenarios it had more to do with mismanagement, board retention, and just plain idiocy. Plain and simple! If this message board wasn't so closely moderated I would go into more details.

Quote:
BTW, I think artistic directors are right to be concerned about dancers in classes, though my experience is that ADs tend to be pretty hands off.

I agree, they should be concerned about how dancers look, however, in my experience atleast, they always seem to become more involved with trying to train their dancers rather than with the artistic direction of the company. There is way more to being an artistic director than teaching ballet class.

Quote:
They may teach some classes, but most classes are taught by a variety of company and guest teachers.

Man oh man I wish I worked where you did. In my experiences it was quite the opposite.

Quote:
Because, how dancers look in class reflects how they will look on stage.

I disagree, it all depends on the class, the repertoire, and the teacher, oh yeah and the dancer :wink: .

Quote:
And no matter what else an AD does, if the dancers aren't in shape and have a company ethos, the company won't look good.

Good point but that is a whole other ball of worms. If you have to stay on top of dancers to take class, stay in shape, and have good ethos then you need to hire new dancers. Some would argue that there aren't many good dancers out there to be able to hire but that is a load of ****. There are so many good, ethically motivated dancers out of work right now it is sick.

Quote:
Besides, the fact of the matter is that (with some exceptions) dancers in company are being paid. It's a job. So, whether you like it or not, the boss gets to decide how things work (within legal and contractual boundaries). That's real life. I've had bosses I've hated, but if you want the paycheck, you gotta knuckle down and do the work.

Another good point and that is one of the reasons for so many dancers now performing EXCLUSIVELY as free-lance artists. In for one production and then immediately out so you don't have to deal with the daily rederict of things you don't like.

Quote:
But, I agree. NO MORE CARMINA BURANAs!!!! I was horrified to see that Houston Ballet is resurrecting Stanton Welch's "Carmina Burana". It was interesting to see at ABT, but I thought it was a colossal waste of time, money and resources for an overblown production that could only be performed in limited locations and performances because of the sets and the need for a full choir. Houston Ballet could do so much better.

Amen to that, I too saw the production at ABT and paid handsomely for the tickets, what a complete waste of time and money. Afterwards I kept thinking to myself, I should have just gone to see a movie and then had dinner with the extra money :wink:


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
I agree that ballet companies should be managed within their means, but one common reason I hear for trying to expand a company's production scales is that in order to hire and retain good dancers, the company has to offer so many weeks of work. How do you solve that problem while living within a limited budget? And if you want to develop your dancers artistically, you'd have to retain them for years, which means offering consistent employment.

--Andre


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Quote:
...Which would bring those people down to the pay level already occupied by lighting designers.

Actually, I wish they would pay me peanuts; that way I'd at least have something to eat.


Hey Salzberg! Do you have something in common with the ENCLOSED beast when it comes to wages? :lol:

_________________
The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:40 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 109
This just in:

http://www.calendarlive.com/stage/cl-ca-letters13webaug13,0,1549857.story?coll=cl-stage-features


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:10 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
It sounds like most of the letter writers missed Segal's point. I don't think he hates ballet, but he hates what it has become.

--Andre


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:44 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Wow! Lewis Segal certainly elicited many responses to his column-proving my pointe that it was deliberately written to raise the ire of passionate ballet fans! Below are my favorite comments from the many letters:

Quote:
Did Lewis Segal get dumped by a ballet dancer? Or, possibly, was he just suffering from indigestion?


Quote:
Someone should shoot Lewis Segal and put him out of his misery. Then you could hire a dance critic who actually enjoys dance and would have the ability to write an informative review.


Quote:
His past reviews have shown that he completely misses the point of what ballet is about. It's about art using the human body as the means of expression. It's about the music enhancing that expression. It's about a long-ago story, that may be politically incorrect but is beautiful in its telling, in mime and choreography.


All of the above proves that you don’t dare mess with ballet fans! Don’t bend down to tie your pointe shoes Lewis Segal. Some ballerina might take advantage of your vulnerable position to give you a swift kick in an unmentionable area or perhaps one day you’ll get it right in your Nutcracker! :wink:

_________________
The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:00 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Quote:
- I HATE the fact that most audiences will burst into applause when a ballet dancer does like 3 pirouettes on stage or holds a balance en pointe way longer than it needs . For me, this interrupts my train of thought while watching a performance and dumbs down the performance experience to that of a common circus. Everytime I experience this I wonder to myself, when is the juggling monkey coming on stage ?


I recollect we discussed the above issue courtesy of osiris661 before. Few things irritate me more than constant applause after every variation often in totally inappropriate moments. It demeans the art. It demeans the artist. It demeans those watching the artistry. It reduces art to gymnastics. Why can’t ballet be more like a musical or play when applause is reserved for the end or after an act :?:

_________________
The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 11:59 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 223
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
While I agree a clap for a triple pirouette is a bit much (it's just 3 turns), operas and musicals often get an applause after each song or scene. A variation is the dancers' equivalent, and, depending on the ballet, sometimes it is appropriate to take a reverence mid-act. The Sleeping Beauty, for example would seem strange without a curtsey from each of the fairies after they dance. Les Sylphides, on the other hand, would seem a bit odd if the ballerinas ran back on stage to take a curtain call before the next number.

Again, it's part of the tradition. I don't feel demeaned as an artist when I get applauded for a pas de deux or variation I've spend hours working on. I can see where you're going with the whole circus thing, but I don't think it's all that bad, is it? Maybe things are different here in Australia.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 7:52 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
The National’s Sleeping Beauty usually turns into an applause fest. I must admit that the Nureyev version lends itself to this sort of thing. There are way too many exclamation pointes if you know what I mean. How many times must we applaud? I’ve paid to see and hear a show. And yes, I have heard applause break up an intimate pas de deux.

_________________
The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 10:08 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Key Biscayne, Florida, USA
Quote:
I recollect we discussed the above issue courtesy of osiris661 before.


Yes, we did in fact discuss this before on this board. It is one of my pet peeves, that is why I listed it in my 5 things I hate list.

Now, I am not saying applause is a bad thing entirely and I hope anyone reading this knows what I mean. Gratitude/respect from an audience is one thing and after a variation or an interlude that has a pause in the music I personally don't mind applause. However, atleast for me, when an audience starts breaking out in applause during the execution of a variation or pas de deux it is irritating. For instance, recently I saw a production, (company will remain nameless), of Swan Lake. We got to the black swan variation and the chic does her double pirrouette :shock: , to attitude turn :shock: , plie arabesque :shock: , pas de bouree :shock: , tendu thingy :shock: and it was ok :? , nothing great but it was nice and clean 8) . At the moment when she did the tendu there were like 4 or 5 people in the audience that started the forced clapping, you know what I mean, the kind where they are not going to stop putting their hands together until everyone clapped. You would have thought that the space shuttle just took off behind her or something. In my opinion, that is just ridiculous, just wait until the end of the freakin variation man! Or, atleast until something is executed that is soooooo rare and unique that you will never see anyone else do it. I am not going to write too much on this because we already have but I would pay extra money to see a performance where the dancing was not interrupted by applause so I could enjoy the experience more. Now that is saying a lot for me considering my recent comments on the high price of tickets to the ballet :wink: .[/quote]


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 11:38 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat May 27, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Who are these people who applaud during inappropriate moments?

(a) Related or friends of dancers.
(b) Dancers not on stage.
(c) Dancers from the National Ballet School.
(d) Office employees of the NBoC.
(e) Volunteers of the NBoC.
(f) Stupid fans.
(g) All of the ABOVE!

_________________
The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group